What we have here is something many assumed wouldn’t ever happen: new music from Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. After getting a reputation among the vinyl heads for their spacey, funky, jazzy 1970’s sound. After a 30 year gap they reformed, and a few years later we have We All Be Africans, as full of gorgeous energetic vibes as ever. On Strut.
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Alto saxophonist Idris Ackamoor has a CV that reads something like “I learned music from Cecil Taylor and now I lead a jazz group”, which has me way, way beat. The amazing Ackamoor has here released one of the year’s most compelling records, leading his Pyramids in taut, revolving-door rhythms that segue into separate melodic side-quests and lyrical observations about a greater African identity. ‘We Be All Africans’ also shows the musical range Ackamoor can both perform and direct -- just listen to that skronking solo that closes out the record’s opening title track, which moves from smooth breathing to furious over-blowing, and eventually into a gorgeous string-arranged segment that suddenly reroutes timbre without us even noticing. This record is spacey and earthy, conversational and solitary, all the time bridging phenomenally large gaps.
Ackamoor is in truly inventive form, here, weaving electronic fusion into the heart of his performance on “Epiphany” before injecting proceedings with an urgent tempo that strips back their supposed space jazz tendencies. “Silent Days” does the same thing with lyrical passages, exchanging certain strands of thought and having them interact as if they were merely moving parallel to one another, linked in the universe by happy coincidence. It interlinks so casually, to the point at which it’s a surprise when you notice the rhythm section: their role feels almost subliminal, so that when the drum fills push their way in it brings reality hurtling back to you.
It’s short, but ‘We Be All Africans’ covers so much ground -- it feels active and involving while making true on its press releases suggestions of space and futurism. Most of all, it’s gorgeous: if it’s spacey, it’s because it drifts, forever seamlessly, through an endless suites of ideas.
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